It's easy to hate Cowboy Mouth, particularly when most everyone's exposure to the band has been through that odious single "Jenny Says." When drummer/ singer Fred LeBlanc starts preaching some life-affirming claptrap, you can almost picture him wearing a ripped-up T-shirt that says, without a drop of irony, "Choose Life."

Then again, consider these lines from the Sam Shepard-Patti Smith play Cowboy Mouth, from which the band took its name: "You gotta grab all the little broken-up, busted pieces of people's frustration ... you gotta give it back to them bigger than life ... you gotta be a rock and roll Jesus with a cowboy mouth." What comes to mind when you think of a rock and roll Jesus? John Lennon? Bono? Both are obvious choices, yet it's this gumbo-rock New Orleans quartet that aspires to be rock's messiah -- even if it loses a few messianic points for its new album, Easy, which sounds more like the Barenaked Ladies than the Second Coming.

In fact, it seems like Cowboy Mouth is bucking for a spot on the next Dawson's Creek soundtrack, judging by songs like "I Know It Shows" and "Always Leaving" (for that scene in which Katie Holmes's character stares contemplatively out her window, pining for Dawson or Pacey. Or both). The stuff's formulaic, which is sad, because you know that Cowboy Mouth is capable of edgier material. That said, the live shows are always fun, and if you don't believe us, just check out All You Need Is Live, also released last year.

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Melanie Haupt